Josh, our senior dog, is now precisely 14 years old. Two weeks ago, a vet who saw Josh for the first time said that he would have taken him for only 8 or 9. He still looks very good; only when you look more closely especially when taking him for a walk do you notice that he is older. A year ago, though, we didn't think he would ever reach this age.
It started at the end of March 2005 when he began to limp on a walk. Well, maybe he'd hurt himself when jumping around nothing to worry about.
However, a visit to the vet was called for when the next day I noticed that this was no ordinary limp but that, at first, he went normally and then, after only a short time, started to drag his leg more and more. As I had to go on a business trip the next day, my husband took him to the vet who found that he couldn't feel any pulse in Josh's left back leg but that no pain could be detected and also the leg was warm. Consequently, it couldn't be a blood clot and so the treatment was focused on Josh's spine.
When I came home two days later his condition had worsened. A vet called on for a second opinion thought that it couldn't be a blood clot because dogs don't get them and, after an X-ray, a different part of Josh's spine was treated.
A day later I asked our vet for an appointment with the Vet.Med. University Clinic in Vienna to get this clarified because it seemed to me that either a nerve must be trapped or that it really must be a thrombosis, as Josh lost control over his left back leg as soon as he had gone a short distance. He became progressively worse. He could now only go 50m and then the problems started. He managed to get back home by galloping on three legs, and after that he was utterly exhausted. We were really worried about him.
So, on 1st April we had the appointment at Vet.Med. Immediately the ultrasound showed crisply and clearly a 2 cm x 1 cm blood clot which was blocking the blood supply to the left back leg but, thank goodness, not completely. Some blood was still getting through but too little to ensure proper blood circulation when he moved. I enquired about all the options but there weren't very many. Finally, came the idea of aspirin as the simplest and probably the safest method. Mornings and evenings, we gave him ½ a 100mg
Aspirin tablet and after 2-3 weeks Josh got better and better until the symptoms stopped completely and he was happily running and jumping around once more.
In September in the meantime his hearing had unfortunately become distinctly worse we stopped the aspirin for a few days and instead gave him a ginkgo product as this should improve the blood circulation, especially in his head. Unfortunately, after three days he began to limp again, but this time in his right rear leg, and in just the same way as it had been in the Spring. So straightaway I went for an ultrasound examination and, of course, there was a blood clot again but surprisingly in a different place from in Spring, although it wasn't possible that it had moved from the one place to the other. We don't know and the vet couldn't explain it either why there was a thrombus first in one place and then in another. Anyway, I immediately switched Josh back to aspirin again.
Now, exactly one year after the first signs, we have celebrated his 14th birthday. True, he can hardly hear any more but he can run around which is certainly more important to him!
At least he has a good excuse when he wants to do his own thing.
I don't know what led to him becoming deaf (most of the time). Naturally, it could be his age, but maybe it's the worse blood circulation, although sometimes he can hear something. Unfortunately, aspirin and gingko must not be administered at the same time so we've decided on the life-preserving one.
It was July when his hearing deteriorated very rapidly and this made Josh very unsure. It seemed as if he could not understand why we didn't talk to him any more and why everything was so quiet. Thank goodness, he got used to it after a few weeks. However, he also had to adjust to the fact that he had to walk on the lead as we could no longer call him or, if necessary, warn him about a car or suchlike. He didn't like that to begin with either but it was for his own safety and now it doesn't bother him.
The severe winter seemed to cost him a lot of strength. The deep and complete layer of snow stopped him romping around and walks were really strenuous; he'd had enough a lot earlier than usual and indicated that he wanted to go back. Even now, he sets off very happily but his rear end soon seems weak and he's glad to go home again. I suspect that it is again something to do with the thrombosis.
Of course, it could also be his age, the lack of "Training", or maybe something completely different. Maybe he's simply adapting to my husband and his increasingly restricted mobility which is caused by ALS.
However, even now one thing has not changed; it is still Josh who always wants to work and is frustrated when I instead of doing some fun training with him and Robbie in my workroom simply sit at my desk and do some paperwork. After all, he's a Border Collie!